The darkest parts of winter are behind us and as Melbourne wakes to a crisp morning, blue skies and not breath of wind it's easy to imagine that it's September already. Mind you if it was September I'd be in a panic: you see I've done no riding this winter, well nowhere near as much as I needed to if I want to go anywhere near a race course this summer. If you're familiar with this feeling then you know what the solution is. Get some training done.
Training? Yes. Training.
This year the humble power meter turned 18 years old. Both PowerTap and SRM launched their first power meters back in 1998 so we can confidently say that watts as a training metric is here to stay.
You already know there are two key parts to a good training outcome:
- A plan
- Something to measure watts
Training plans and analysis software are a dime-a-dozen: TrainingPeaks, GoldenCheetah, Today's Plan, GARMIN Connect, PowerAgent. There are a multitude of ways to view and analyse your data and just as many ways to generate a plan.
You will also need a power meter. In 1982 Polar launched the worlds first wireless HR monitor and so heart rate was the standard training metric for the next 16 or so years. Then in 1998 PowerTap & SRM hit the market with a new device that could measure a metric called 'watts'. Power was quickly adopted as the metric of choice due to the consistancy displayed by the value. A watt is a watt no matter how windy it is or the number of coffees youve drunk. In the space of 18 years we've seen the number of companies with power meter offerings explode and the retail prices tumble. Most power meters work on strain gauges measuring the change in a material and performing a calculation to give the power figure. Some manufacturers place the strain gauge in a hub (PowerTap), on the crank arm (Stages, Pioneer), in the spider (PowerTap, SRM, Quarq) or pedal (Garmin, PowerTap). They all do the same thing: tell you how many watts you're generating. With companies like Pioneer currently offering a left crank arm unit from $599 it's hard to say power meters are too expensive.
Its a simple progression: Buy a power meter, plan, train, go faster.
We can help with the first part but the rest is up to you.